Monday, October 23, 2006

MLS Playoffs Round 1 - Match 1

All four matches this weekend were solid outings. No team was blown away and the play on the ball was some of the best. If the rest of the playoffs go like this, the next three weeks will be very enjoyable.

New York Red Bulls 0-1 DC United
United came out in complete control in the first half, but could not finish. Bruce Arena did some of the halftime voodoo that he is known for and sure enough, New York was in control in the second half. Yet for all their control, the Red Bulls could not counter act the smart play of DC's Christian Gomez. With his little chip over the head of keeper Jon Conway, Gomez made a strong statement on why he should be league MVP. It was not just that he scored, but how he did it. His ability to thread a line threw four defenders was nothing short of perfection (as was Jaime Moreno's pass that set it all up).

United had a harder time with this game then I thought they would, but stand in a good spot heading into next week's showdown in DC. Unless something goes really wrong, United should get out of this series.

Colorado Rapids 1-2 FC Dallas
I really though FC Dallas was going to have a much tougher time on the road, but in truth, this was the most one sided of all the matches played this weekend. It's not that it was a blow out, it's just that the Rapids never looked like they could actually win it. In no small way is this due to FCD's keeper Dario Sala. The choice to put him between the posts instead of Shaka Hislop was exactly the right one as Sala came up with one big save after another while making it look effortless.

Up top, Carlos Ruiz and Abe Thompson were able to find the holes in the Rapids defense and cause havoc. On top of that, they were able to make the most of all their shots on goal (they had 4 and scored twice). One concern for the team from Big D is Kenny Cooper. His play in the midfield was not as tight has in the past and his pushes forward were never for efficient.

By the way, what was Colorado's Thiago Martins thinking when he decided to pop FCD's Clarence Goodson in the ribs? The Rapids have very few offensive options, so his red card is really going to hurt them next weekend in Dallas.

New England Revolution 0-1 Chicago Fire
This was the match I was waiting for as the two hottest teams came together in a great soccer venue. Thankfully, I was not disappointed. For almost the full 90, both clubs were going for goal, but the only one to fine one was Justin Mapp off a free kick that saw the wall fall. If the Revs loose this series, it will be in due, in large part, to Andy Dorman wanting to protect his face. His decision to turn his head away from the on coming ball instead of jump and try to either chest it or just turn his head downwards, allowed the ball to pass right through the wall on it's way to goal.

The rest of play was build up after build up that normally ended in a great defensive clearance. By the way, the Revs Taylor Twellman seems to be just a bit out of sync with the rest of his club. There were multiple chances were his head was just a bit late or his pass was a little out of reach, thus turning a good scoring chase into a hard clearance by the Fire.

If Twellman re-syncs and Clint Dempsey is okay (so how many US soccer fans were gasping when Dempsey went down with the twisted ankle), then the Revs have a chance of taking this series.

Houston Dynamo 1-2 Chivas USA
Sometimes important calls just always seem to go your way. There were at least two questionable calls during yesterday's match, both of which could have changed the score line. The foul that lead to Ante Razov's amazing free kick goal never should have been as a Dynamo player was fouled at midfield moments earlier, but the ref didn't call it. Then there was Brian Ching getting taken down in the box by Chivas keeper Brad Guzan in the 64th. Guzan wasn't anywhere near getting the ball, he just forced Ching to either dive or get a red card for endangering the keeper. Yes, Ching did get a pk when he was taken down in the 85th minute, but that was not a make up call as it was the correct call.

But enough about the refs mistakes, the play was good on both sides. Houston came looking for a deathblow early, but just could not make it. Chivas counter well and were able to neutralize Dwayne De Rosario for much of the game. Juan Francisco Palencia really stepped it up, but can he keep it up when the series goes to Houston? The two best plays of the match where Guzan's penalty kick stop and Wade Barrett's clearance of Razov's open net break away in the 18th. If either of these had not happened, the game would be so different.

A good weekend for soccer, but I do wonder where all the fans were? Chicago saw just over 10,000. I know it was cold, but they had almost as many there for their Wednesday night US Open Cup finally. In addition, unless New York pulls off the upset of upsets, this was the Fire's last home game of the year. Don't think I'm picking on the Fire, it's just that their game was on ABC. Empty seats for a playoff match do not look good on national television. That said, at least they didn't show the Colorado games as only 4,000 fans made it out, which is just a bit under half of the 8,600 fans that found their way to the Meadowlands to watch DC-NY. If only their numbers could be closer to Chivas's 15,000, then we could start hearing some excitement.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home